Jobs and Career Opportunities » Careers and Occupations: Looking to the Future » Getting a Job - Sources Of Career Information, Applying For A Job, Evaluating A Job Offer

Getting a Job - Applying For A Job

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Résumés and Application Forms

Sending a résumé (summary of a job applicant's previous employment, education, and skills) and filling out an application form are two ways to provide employers with written evidence of one's qualifications. Some employers prefer that prospective employees present a résumé, while others require a completed application form instead of (or in addition to) a résumé.

There are many ways to organize a résumé. Books on the topic are available in local libraries and bookstores. The Internet is also a good source for finding résumé-writing techniques. Table 7.2 outlines the basic information that is usually included in a résumé. If a company supplies an application form, it should be filled out completely and correctly.

TABLE 7.2

What usually goes into a resume

  • Name, address, e-mail address, and telephone number.
  • Employment objective. State the type of work or specific job you are seeking.
  • Education, including school name and address, dates of attendance, major, and highest grade completed or degree awarded. Consider including any courses or areas of focus that might be relevant to the position.
  • Experience, paid and volunteer. For each job, include the job title, name and location of employer, and dates of employment. Briefly describe your job duties.
  • Special skills, computer skills, proficiency in foreign languages, achievements, and membership in organizations.
  • References, only when requested.
  • Keep it short; only one page for less experienced applicants.
  • Avoid long paragraphs; use bullets to highlight key skills and accomplishments.
  • Have several people review your resume for any spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Print it on high quality paper.

SOURCE: "What Usually Goes into a Resume," in Occupational Outlook Hand book, 2006–07 Edition, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 20, 2005, http://www.bls.gov/oco/oco20044.htm (accessed January 28, 2006)

Cover Letters

A cover letter is sent with a résumé or application form as a way to introduce the job seeker to prospective employers. It should capture the employer's attention, follow a business-letter format, and include the following information:

  • The name and address of the specific person to whom the letter is addressed
  • The reason for the applicant's interest in the company and the type of job the applicant is seeking
  • A brief list of qualifications for the position, including education, job experience, and unpaid experience, if applicable
  • Any special skills
  • References (if requested)
  • A request for an interview
  • Home and work phone numbers

Interviewing

An interview showcases qualifications to an employer. Table 7.3 provides some helpful hints about interviewing. Preparation, personal appearance, and information presented at an interview are all very important, but being prepared is perhaps the most important. Adequate preparation shows that the candidate is knowledgeable and confident and helps the interviewee feel more at ease with answering questions and taking any tests required.

TABLE 7.3

Job interview tips

Preparation:

Learn about the organization.

Have a specific job or jobs in mind.

Review your qualifications for the job.

Prepare answers to broad questions about yourself.

Review your résumé.

Practice an interview with a friend or relative.

Arrive before the scheduled time of your interview.

Personal appearance:

Be well groomed.

Dress appropriately.

Do not chew gum or smoke.

The interview:

Relax and answer each question concisely.

Respond promptly.

Use good manners.

Learn the name of your interviewer and greet him or her with a firm handshake.

Use proper English—avoid slang.

Be cooperative and enthusiastic.

Use body language to show interest.

Ask questions about the position and the organization, but avoid questions whose answers can easily be found on the company Web site. Also avoid asking questions about salary and benefits unless a job offer is made.

Thank the interviewer when you leave and, as a follow-up, in writing.

Test (if employer gives one):

Listen closely to instructions.

Read each question carefully.

Write legibly and clearly.

Budget your time wisely and don't dwell on one question.

Information to bring to an interview:

Social Security card.

Government-issued identification (driver's license).

Résumé. Although not all employers require applicants to bring a résumé, you should be able to furnish the interviewer information about your education, training, and previous employment.

References. Employers typically require three references. Get permission before using anyone as a reference. Make sure that they will give you a good reference. Try to avoid using relatives as references.

Transcripts. Employers may require an official copy of transcripts to verify grades, coursework, dates of attendance, and highest grade completed or degree awarded.

SOURCE: "Job Interview Tips," in Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006–07 Edition, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 20, 2005, http://www.bls.gov/oco/oco20045.htm (accessed January 28, 2006)

For every interview, a job candidate should be well groomed and appear polished and confident. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed. One rule of thumb offered to potential interviewees is to research the dress policy of a company, and wear an outfit that is at the formal end of the company's usual range of attire. Candidates interviewing for a new position in their present company may be well-served by dressing as if they have achieved their new position. Job candidates should never smoke, chew gum, or accept an alcoholic beverage at an interview.

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Whether the position is offered or not, it is important that the job seeker follow through with a brief note of thanks to the interviewer. The note can also be another opportunity for the job candidate to "sell" his or her strong qualities. This is a courtesy that leaves a positive impression on a potential employer. If another job becomes available, the interviewer may remember the gracious gesture and approach the candidate about the position.

Testing

Many employers require prospective employees to take tests that measure skills, drug or alcohol use, or psychological traits in order to be considered for positions at their companies. Such tests are closely regulated by state and federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Tests must directly relate to the skills required for the particular job in question and must be given to all applicants for the position.

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